|(Posted 10/8/2005) |
By Danielle Samaniego for the Contra Costa Times. Edited by Josh Rabinowitz for SkateboardDirectory.com
Pleasant Hill, Calfornia - On a recent Saturday evening, yellow caution tape enclosed the ramps and rails of a makeshift skateboard arena as sounds of wheels * whirred throughout DVC Shopping Plaza.
The buzz was interrupted perioidically by the "CLACK!" of skateboards launching from wooden ramps, then reconnecting to the ground as the skaters land.
The atmosphere of the skateshop aims to be welcoming to kids of all ages, and that's just the way Joel Jutagir has always wanted it.
More than just a store to many customers, Jutagir's Metro skate shop at 236 Golf Club Road in Pleasant Hill, California * has become a hangout for people to listen to music, play video games and meet with friends.
At the center of the hub is Jutagir, who can often be found skating alongside his customers or helping people put their boards together.
Jutagir's original plan? Foster the big city skating mindframe in suburbia.
"The idea was to nurture that scene along in the Pleasant Hill area like they do in San Francisco *," said Jutagir, who first came from Florida * to carve out a skater's life in the heart of one of the top skating cities in the country.
Since he opened up shop five years ago, Jutagir has grown his customer base through word-of-mouth and online postings. He's also put on monthly events such as movie nights and barbecues like the one held last month. In addition, Metro also offers a skate camp * in the summer where teens can take field trips to some of the better skate parks in the area.
Jutagir, 29, likes to think of his business as part passion and part community service. The Metro allows him to cultivate his love of skating, while providing a place for skaters to get their goods without resorting to the mall -- a place far too "establishment" for a crowd that prides itself on being anything but.
"I think when I first started it, in a sense there was this aspect of giving back to something that gave me so much," Jutagir said of his shop. "But part of it is that you want the kids to have shops like the ones I did growing up and make sure that kind of vibe keeps regenerating itself."
The Metro is sandwiched between a hobby shop and a burger joint. Its only storefront window is blocked by a giant shop sign designed in the vein of the 1927 sci-fi classic "Metropolis."
The inside of the store aims to mirror the garages or bedrooms of skate aficionados where "No skateboarding" street signs and product posters are decorations of choice. Skate decks, shoes, hats and clothing line the walls. The rest is filled out with sparse racks of skateboard-related and Metro shirts. A futon is set up toward the back, and an indoor mini ramp is hidden behind a wooden wall.
Through places like Jutagir's shop, skateboarding has continued to find a place in the mainstream despite its reputation as being a hobby for teenagers outside of that circle.
"You were outcast basically and it wasn't as much of a trend or fad at all," Jutagir said of skating's earlier days. "But skateboarding moves back and forth ... there's always people doing it. It's never going to cease to exist because it's too fun."
Jutagir's shop has evolved into an environment where die-hard skateboarders are just as comfortable as the suburban mothers who drop their children off at The Metro. What the place lacks in pizzazz, it tries to makes up for in service.
Patrons and friends say it's Jutagir's touch that makes the difference.
"I love it because the owner seems to really care about quality stuff and teaches them how to respect where they do skate," said Wendy Michels, who brought her son Drew Michels, 11, to The Metro's barbecue. "Skateboarding is its own little community, so I love that they have these events."
Customers show their Metro pride through stickers, shirts, hats and even tattoos. Jutagir is aware of at least 11 people who have his shop logo inked permanently, including himself. His shop has even shown up in the professional skating circuit thanks to his friend, professional skater Corey Duffel, who's a sponsored Metro skater.
He's a long way from the mid-1990s when he was working odd jobs in San Francisco just to keep skateboarding. He's worked everywhere from a chocolate factory to a sticker factory.
With financial help from his mother and a "ridiculous shoestring budget," Jutagir opened The Metro in 2000 *. He chose Pleasant Hill for his first business venture * because of the perceived market demand there and because his wife, Kate Jutagir, 29, wanted to live in an area where she could continue horseback riding.
It may have been a rocky start during the first few years, but Jutagir said he's seeing his labor of love finally turning into a viable venture. He's already scouting bigger locations to move his store. He still plans to stay in Pleasant Hill because of the base he's built there.
"It's just fun hanging out and sitting on the couch," said Concord resident Jonny Clugston, 11. "You can ask him (Jutagir) what you want and sometimes I'll ask him to special order something for me and he will."
"I think a shop like this wouldn't be affected as much by the fluctuation or trend levels," Jutagir said of the popularity of skateboarding and the growth of skateboard parks. "I think we'd weather it because we built it (the shop) in a community that can withstand that."
This article was originally entitled "Owner stays grounded in skateboard business" and was found at http://www.contracostatimes.com/ mld/cctimes/news/ 12805000.htm
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